Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bidder Attitudes at Traditional vs. Fundraising Auctions

Are bidder's attitudes different at traditional auctions versus fundraising auctions? Should a bidder's attitude and approach be different for each type of auction? Yes! Fundraising and traditional auctions are two distinctly different types of venues, and the bidder is expected to demonstrate radically different attitudes in each setting.

Let's face facts and the sobering reality that at traditional auctions the bidder wants to get the best deal. In traditional auctions sometimes the bidder gets the best deal, and the auctioneer is left to cry in his soup that evening. Sometimes it goes the other way, and the bidder experience's throwing himself over the barrel because he masochistically overbid on an item. You can never really know in advance what the final result will be as every auction has various crowds, conditions, and unique items.

In traditional auctions the auctioneer tries to establish the item's value by starting with a high dollar bid amount, and then he progressively drops the bid until a bidder jumps onto the bid. I believe that this auctioneer technique also reinforces the bidder's attitude and zeal in trying to get the best deal. At the point where the auctioneer receives his first bid, he then advances the bid as fast as he can from there. Auction items may occasionally sell for bargain basement prices, and sometimes items sell for over retail.

On the other side of the spectrum there are fundraising auctions, which are typically utilized in support of charitable causes. The purpose of a fundraising auction is to raise as much money as possible for the cause the event supports. Fundraising auctions are not about creating the best deal attitude in bidders!

Can fundraising auctioneers influence bidder's attitudes and the outcome of a benefit auction? Absolutely! We have all heard stories about fundraising auctions that tanked because the items sold below cost, or worse the auction results did not meet the client's expectations. You can always gage an auctioneer's experience level by observing how they conduct their fundraising auctions. What precautions can the fundraising auctioneer take?

First and foremost, and well before the fundraising event, the auctioneer should discuss Guest Development with his client. Getting the right people at the event is critical. This makes all the difference in the bidder's attitude, or instilling a more appropriate attitude in the bidder which successfully promotes charitable giving at the event. The fundraising auctioneer should counsel his client to make Guest Development a priority in targeting the philanthropists in his community. Getting the medical doctor to attend the event makes more sense than inviting the fast food restaurant employee.

There are also many other important areas for the fundraising auctioneer to consider in creating the right bidder attitude. Procuring the right auction items is also extremely important. A bottle of 1961 Chateau Margaux will bring a lot more money at a fundraising auction versus a gift certificate to Mc Barfys! Get in the habit of making an opening announcement to set the tone of the evening. For example; There won't be any bargains this evening, as I expect everyone to give from the bottom of their hearts!

Attitude is everything! Throwing caution to the wind, and believing that you do not influence your bidder's attitudes is begging for a short-lived career. Instill the right bidder attitude for your auctions.

Tom DiNardo is co-owner of DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers of Anacortes, WA. Tom is an Auctioneer, Appraiser, and Writer.

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(c) 2004 Tom DiNardo - All rights reserved.